07 January 2014

The Teacher with the Most God-awful Surname

Before anything else, I swear that this story really happened instead of something I cooked up to draw a few laughs.


However, the story within the story, that one I cannot quite vouch for. Read on and decide for yourselves.

The story happened back in schoolyear 1985-86, when I was the Homeroom Adviser of a class of seniors. To ensure order in the homeroom, I made it a point to hang out in the classroom after lunch everyday.

This was when the students finished up on school work needed in the afternoon or, if it was a light day, just spent the time gossiping or having fun. In a class of high school seniors, things could easily get out of hand.

That was why I hung out inside the classroom to make sure that nothing ever got out of hand.

“I heard about this story of an elementary teacher in (name of school) who had the funniest surname,” he went on. “Have you heard of the story as well?”
One lazy noontime, a group of my male students amused each other close to the teacher’s table by trying to recall the most awkward surnames of people that they knew. I had one of my ears cocked to the conversation while I checked quizzes.

One boy soon broke off from the group and approached me at the teacher’s table. Mind, this guy is now an executive of a large corporation operating in Hong Kong.

“Sir,” he began as I looked up briefly to let him know he had my ears before I went back to checking papers.

“I heard about this story of an elementary teacher in (name of school) who had the funniest surname,” he went on. “Have you heard of the story as well?”

“What’s the surname?”

Instead of saying the name out loud, the boy spelled it out for me, “B-A-J-O-M-P-O-Q-U-E.”

It took me a moment or two to figure it out; but when I did, I burst out laughing.

“That’s a god-awful name for anyone to have,” I told him. “I’m sure it’s not true.”

I thought for a while and with the humour of the situation overcoming me, I told the boy, “Maybe it is a French name, in which case the name is pronounced bah-zhom-pohk.”

We both laughed out loud.

“Imagine, Sir,” the boy was not done yet, “the teacher greeting her class each morning and the class greeting her back with ‘Good morning Ms. Bah…’ “

“French! French!” I bade him.

Because if the name was pronounced the Spanish way…

Que horror!

But then again, I told the boy, I was sure the entire story was just a cockamamie tale invented by drunken people.

Or was it…?

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